The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Pigeons roosting, etc.

A few of them have come home or are en route:

Finally, climate change has made your favorite hot sauce more expensive, and will continue to do so until pepper farmers adapt their vines to the new reality, or move them.

End of day reading list

The XPOTUS continuing to get indicted for trying to steal the 2020 election wasn't the only bit of authoritarian fuckery this week:

Finally, Michael Oher, the subject of the book and film The Blind Side, says the white family that he lived with not lied to him about adopting him, but also used their positions as his conservators to screw him out of compensation from the story of his own life. Which, if you remember, put the white folks up as the heroes. I wish I'd been more surprised and shocked, but no, it tracks.

Note to my future self

This is why I won't get 10,000 steps today:

I'm still at 84,000 steps over the past 7 days, though.

Still, even though it's cool enough to have all the windows open, and none of the rain seems to be blowing in, I'd still rather have gotten all my steps today. Cassie, for her part, got over 4 hours of walks this past weekend, so she seems fine with it. She doesn't like the rain any more than I do.

Maybe tomorrow.

Lots of walking

My phone, watch, and dog are all recharging right now after Cassie and I walked 9.5 km to the Horner Park DFA and back.

Right now it's officially 30°C with the occasional wind gust at O'Hare, but here in Ravenswood we've got 26°C with a light breeze. So once my watch has fully charged we're going back outside.

And hey, we might see this guy again:

Several people have identified this as a Cooper's Hawk, one of the more common raptors in the Illinois prairies, and I hope a more common visitor to my rabbit-infested neighborhood. Plenty to eat here!

Today is like May 1st

Since I live in a temperate climate, I think about seasons more than my friends who live in, say, San Jose, Calif. This becomes especially pronounced the closer we get to the equinoxes as the change in daylight hours peak then. On my walk with Cassie earlier today, I started thinking about how actually to quantify the lengthening shadows in autumn.

Here, then, is a chart of the position of the sun in Chicago for the first day of each month, along with its equivalent day on the other side of the equinox. For example, today the sun is about 63° above the southern horizon at solar noon—almost exactly the same as on May 1st. This means also that the day has about the same length (14 hours, 2 minutes), and the sun rises and sets in the same parts of the eastern and western skies, respectively.

Using the code I wrote for Weather Now, it took just a couple of minutes to generate the basic data for this chart. It should make sense right away, except for the column marked "Shadow." That's the length of the shadow cast per unit of hight at solar noon. So, for example, today's 63.3° sun angle gave a 10-meter building a shadow almost exactly 5 meters in length. The two days of the year (in Chicago, anyway) when the sun is 45° above the horizon—giving everything a shadow equal to its own height—are March 13th and September 30th.


Date Sunrise Sunset Daylight Rise Noon Set Shadows Same as
Jan 1 07:20 16:31 9:11 121° 25° 239° 2.14 Dec 11
Feb 1 06:35 17:07 10:02 112° 31° 248° 1.67 Nov 10
Mar 1 06:27 17:42 11:14 99° 41° 261° 1.17 Oct 12
Apr 1 06:35 19:17 12:42 83° 53° 277° 0.76 Sep 11
May 1 05:48 19:50 14:02 68° 63° 292° 0.51 Aug 11
Jun 1 05:19 20:21 15:01 59° 70° 301° 0.36 Jul 11
Jul 1 05:20 20:31 15:11 57° 71° 303° 0.34 Jun 11
Aug 1 05:45 20:10 14:25 65° 66° 295° 0.45 May 11
Sep 1 06:17 19:26 13:08 78° 56° 282° 0.67 Apr 11
Oct 1 06:48 18:34 11:45 94° 45° 266° 1.01 Mar 12
Nov 1 07:24 17:46 10:22 109° 34° 251° 1.51 Feb 11
Dec 1 07:00 16:21 9:21 119° 26° 241° 2.03 Jan 11

Another thing I found interesting: notice how quickly shadows lengthen in the fall and shorten in the spring. That's what I noticed today, in fact: the east-west sidewalks were completely in shadow at noon today. They haven't been since, oh, the beginning of May.

Now, the date pairs should work for any point on earth, but all the other data will change. If you want to see your own location's sunrise and sunset times, go to Weather Now.

Temperature 26, dewpoint 22

I just got back from walking Cassie for about half an hour, and I'm a bit sticky. The dog days of summer in Chicago tend to have high dewpoints hanging out for weeks on end, making today pretty typical.

Our sprint ends Tuesday and I still have 3 points left on the board, so I may not have time to give these more than a cursory read:

Finally, Andrew Sullivan adapts a column he wrote in August 2001 asking, "why can't Americans take a vacation?" One reason, I believe: all the time and money we spend in and on our cars.

Incremental improvements

i just pushed a new build of Weather Now that corrects a problem no one else knew about in the way it managed time zones. The work took about 3 hours over several days this week, sneaking half an hour here and there between rehearsals, performances, and my day job.

I also worked on some code to interface with my home weather station. I've gotten it to download and parse reports from my Netatmo devices, and to refresh (and securely store) the API access token. I figure it'll take about 3-5 more hours to hook that code into the Azure Functions that download and store weather reports from other sources.

Today, however, I have one more performance of Die Zauberflöte. So...maybe next weekend?

Wait, it's August?

While I fight a slow laptop and its long build cycle (and how every UI change seems to require re-compiling), the first day of the last month of summer brought this to my inbox:

  • Who better to prosecute the XPOTUS than a guy who prosecuted other dictators and unsavory characters for the International Criminal Court? (In America, we don't go to The Hague; here, The Hague comes to you!)
  • After the evidence mounted that Hungary has issued hundreds of thousands of passports without adequate identity checks, the US has restricted Hungarian passport holders from the full benefits of ESTA that other Schengen-area citizens enjoy.
  • The US economy continues to exceed the expectations of people who have predicted a recession any day now. (Of course, every dead pool has a guaranteed winner eventually...)
  • After an unprecedented 31 consecutive days enduring temperatures over 43°C, Phoenix finally caught a break yesterday—when the temperature only hit 42°C.
  • Jake Meador explores why about 40 million fewer Americans go to church these days than in 1995.
  • Remember how we all thought Tesla made cars with amazing battery ranges? Turns out, Elon Musk can't do that right, either.
  • American car culture not only gives us unlivable environments, but also discourages the exploration that people in other countries (and I when I go there) do all the time.
  • We should all remember (and thank) USSR naval Captain Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov, who vetoed firing a nuclear-tipped torpedo at an American destroyer during the Cuban Missile Crisis 71 years ago.

Finally, Chicago historian John Schmidt tells the story of criminal mastermind Adam Worth, who may have been Arthur Conan Doyle's inspiration for Professor Moriarty.

Stuff to read later

I'm still working on the feature I described in my last post. So some articles have stacked up for me to read:

And while I read these articles and write this code, outside my window the dewpoint has hit 25°C, making the 28°C air feel like it's 41°C. And poor Cassie only has sweat glands between her toes. We're going to delay her dinnertime walk a bit.

Atlantic thermohaline circulation wobbles

Back in 1990, journalist James Burke produced a documentary for PBS called "After the Warming," which looked back from an imagined 2050 to explain how and why palm trees came to grow in Boston. The framing device he used was to set the documentary as an explainer for an important report on the Atlantic thermohaline circulation study due to be released during the broadcast. I won't spoil it for you except to say as pessimistic as Burke was in 1990, he may have been, in fact, overly optimistic:

The Atlantic Ocean’s sensitive circulation system has become slower and less resilient, according to a new analysis of 150 years of temperature data — raising the possibility that this crucial element of the climate system could collapse within the next few decades.

Scientists have long seen the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC, as one of the planet’s most vulnerable “tipping elements” — meaning the system could undergo an abrupt and irreversible change, with dramatic consequences for the rest of the globe. Under Earth’s current climate, this aquatic conveyor belt transports warm, salty water from the tropics to the North Atlantic, and then sends colder water back south along the ocean floor. But as rising global temperatures melt Arctic ice, the resulting influx of cold freshwater has thrown a wrench in the system — and could shut it down entirely.

The study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications suggests that continued warming will push the AMOC over its “tipping point” around the middle of this century. The shift would be as abrupt and irreversible as turning off a light switch, and it could lead to dramatic changes in weather on either side of the Atlantic.

The consequences would not be nearly as dire as they appear in the 2004 sci-fi film “The Day After Tomorrow,” in which a sudden shutdown of the current causes a flash freeze across the northern hemisphere. But it could lead to a drop in temperatures in northern Europe and elevated warming in the tropics, Peter Ditlevsen said, as well as stronger storms on the East Coast of North America.

Exactly: palm trees in Boston and the extinction of most food crops in Scotland, Scandinavia, and the Baltics. London in January may only have 6 hours of daylight but it rarely gets below freezing, even though it's at roughly the same latitude as Calgary. If the Atlantic stops bringing warm Caribbean water to the British Isles, the UK will have to invest in snow plows.

The main thing that Burke predicted in his film has come to pass, however: decades of inaction by politicians who have no incentive (other than having to live on the planet) for taking long-term action on climate change. And we're the worst offenders.